What are the pressures in your life right now? Do you have a major physical burden? Are there responsibilities and to do list items that are demanding urgent attention? Is there someone trying to strongly influence you in an area you are uncertain about? Are there circumstances in your life that feel as though they are constraining you?
Do you long for peace? Do you pine for the possibility of a better future?
My dear reader, let me assure you, you are not alone. I am right there with you, feeling the pressure, yearning for peace and hoping for the possibility of good things to come.
I sit this morning exhausted, but awake in a still and quiet house. It’s quiet because it is just after 5:00am. I am the only one in my family foursome who has lumbered out of my slumber and onto the duties of the day. The clicking of my keyboard is the only sound to be heard, disrupted only by my own yawns.
Already this early in the morning, there are pressures. Pressures to tidy up my home, to tend to that load of laundry I haven’t gotten to yet, or to file those papers that came in the mail in their appropriate places. It takes only moments from my initial walk through of my home to find those.
Soon enough the list of daily morning responsibilities will need to be tended to. My husband and children will awaken with requests of their own. My to do list will quickly highlight all I have not tended to yet and the pressure of the day will increase. Then as we all head out the door life will push here, poke there and the pressure will build. Hunger will set in for a large serving of the Fruit of the Spirit known as Peace.
The Lord’s peace can displace the anxiety created by pressure, bringing with it the hope of possibility.
"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, PRAY. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." Philippians 4:6-7 (Message)
Tranquility. A quiet state of mind. Composure of disjointed, disquieting thoughts. Freedom from oppressive emotions. A sense of God’s wholeness.
Oh, doesn’t that sound just lovely and luxuriating?
That seems like something one would need to escape away from every day life to find. A retreat away from everything. But what if that is what God wants for us in the midst of our every day life. A peace that passes our understanding. A peace that would perhaps even confound those around us.
Peace in Crazy Times
I love this picture because it represents crazy pressure in a more upbeat way. This actually happened to me. I was out golfing with my extended family…including my son who’s on the varsity golf team, my Dad (a great golfer from years of experience) and my Brother, Mike, who played in school himself & who I believed got the bulk of the athletic ability inheritance in our family.
We were playing on a small, rural, course; one that should have offered a relaxing and pressure free game of play. Not so much. But isn’t life kind of like this? We want to have fun, to relax and suddenly we find ourselves at the center of attention, ill equipped in our skills & talents, in awe at the challenge that lies ahead, under the scrutiny of those who seem so much better able to handle what we’re facing, crunched for time to do what we need to and afraid that life was just going to give us a shockingly cold soaking from head to toe. Story of my life.
There are days that I think I have great pressures. Then I open the Bible. I can not even fathom the experiences of the Saints that have come before us. I read in 2 Kings chapter 6 of the prophet Elisha waking up in a city surrounded by the Aramean army. Elisha’s servant is clearly freaking out as they stare at all of the men and horses and chariots. But Elisha has peace and knows that with God there is possibility.
I imagine Elisha would be seen as insanely calm by his servant when Elisha says, “Do not be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
I can not even fathom the pressure of the moment. If I am brutally honest, I don’t really want to. I will happily take my ten page to do list back please.
Elisha answers and then he prays, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” The Lord answers his prayers and the servant could see hills full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha.
I’m not sure if that would bring peace or just an immediate state of shock. I could imagine that there would definitely be a shift of possibility that things may go differently than initially expected.
Prayers of Petition and Praise
It seems to me that pressure can really be beneficial in encouraging us to pray. Through those prayers God can mold and shape the mess into something with more potential. A pile of clay begins as a useless mound of dirt, but can be shaped into many useful and beautiful products of possibility.
In my experience, prayers that are most effective are the ones that are the most honest. It is when we expose the cracks that the pressure has produced in our lives that God can really restore our wholeness.
So I offer up this prayer for us:
May we use the pressures of our day today, to motivate us to bring our concerns to You. May we ask You the questions that we have and share with You the little delights of our day. May we just come to You in our weariness and our worries, as well as in our excitements and joys.
Lord, work in our lives in ways that do not even make sense to us. Open our eyes and give us a crazy perspective. Give us peace among the chaos. As our day progresses, most of us will probably encounter someone with urgent matters who want us to get anxious with them about their concerns. Today, may we meet that crazy influence with peace, with patience and with a hope of possibility.
May this all be possible because we trust deeply in You. In the peace filled name of Jesus, with His endless possibility, amen.